The cute term – “preemies” – belies the serious consequences that babies born too soon can face.

The complications of a premature birth may be evident right away or take time to unfold. In the short term, a premature baby may have difficulty breathing or eating. In the long term, the complications can include cerebral palsy and cognitive impairment, as well as chronic health issues such as asthma or susceptibility to infections.

What are the risk factors for premature birth? In this post, we will address that question. We will also take note of a recent study suggesting that many premature births are connected to air pollution.

Air pollution

What about air pollution? Is it possible that a pregnant woman’s exposure to polluted air causes premature birth in some cases?

A recent research study concluded that air pollution leads to nearly 16,000 premature births every year. The study was led by a researcher at New York University School of Medicine. It was based on data from federal agencies and the Institute of Medicine, a respected health research organization.

The study found that, in the U.S. about 3 percent of premature births are linked to air pollution. The problem is that toxic chemicals in the air get into the bloodstream of pregnant mothers. This harms the immune system, which results in a weakened placenta and a reduced ability of the fetus to stay in the mother’s womb.

In individual cases, the challenges of dealing with complications from premature birth are significant. It isn’t easy, trying to help a child struggling with cerebral palsy or some other serious condition.

Moreover, the cumulative cost of having so many premature births in our country really adds up. The recent study put the annual cost of injuries to premature babies caused by air pollution at nearly $3.6 billion from lost economic productivity, plus another $760 million to address long-term health issues.

Your circumstances

When a baby has to be delivered prematurely, it results in inherent risks. For example, lack of oxygen to the fetus can result in severe brain injuries.

If your child was born prematurely and suffered complications, you may be bewildered or angry about what happened. Discussing your situation with an attorney who is knowledgeable about birth injury claims will help you know what your legal options are.